How To Create Ads Your Competitors Will Steal

Thats right, they will be so good they will want to steal them. But even if they did it won't work because creating killer Google ads goes way deeper than just the ad.Read the full guide now!

Kevin Gallagher

Author Archives: Kevin Gallagher

Just someone who likes to help hard working business owners get the business and sales they deserve.

5 Ways to Tell if it’s Time to Sack Your SEO Agency

Are you sick of not getting the right results from your SEO agency?

As an experienced marketer, I know that there’s the odd SEO agency out there that just doesn’t make the cut anymore, using outdated and highly questionable techniques. Other SEO agencies, on the other hand, can be brilliant. In fact, some are just as good as any other digital marketing agency when it comes to getting you results!

The difference? They’ve learned to adapt.

Below, I’m going to tell you five ways to tell if it’s time to get rid of your SEO agency, and look for pastures new.

1. Their services lack transparency

In other words, you can’t see what they’re doing, and they won’t tell you. Or they’re extremely vague about it. Look at it this way; in this digital age, where you can look up just about anything at the click of a button, your SEO agency shouldn’t feel the need to keep their activities secret from you.

It’s actually quite worrying. It even means they could be using highly ill-advised link-building tactics that could get you penalised by Google. Or, they might just be doing a whole lot of nothing much!

2. They aren’t providing trackable results

This is sort of related to point 1. But if your SEO agency isn’t telling you what they’re doing, they should at least be able to provide you with some trackable results so you can see the progress they’re making. If they’re hiding one or both of those things from you, it’s time to jump ship.

Ideally, your SEO agency should be generating a report for you each month, and answering any questions you have, so you can see exactly what results you’re getting.

3. They aren’t using a holistic strategy

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; there’s no point in attracting lots of traffic to your website, if your site isn’t set up to convert that traffic into leads and sales. And surely that’s why you’re investing in an SEO agency in the first place, isn’t it? That’s why SEO doesn’t work on its own.

These days, SEO should be implemented as part of a wider strategy, that should include elements such as:

  • Content marketing – publishing regular monthly content, and premium content, on your website
  • Conversion optimisation – ensuring your website is set up to convert visitors into leads
  • Email marketing – this can include setting up email workflows to nurture your leads
  • Tracking and A/B testing – their efforts should be constantly tracked and optimised for best results

4. They don’t communicate enough

If you’re struggling to find anyone from your SEO agency to talk to, or they just aren’t answering your calls or emails, it may be time to reconsider your options. After all, it’s about respecting your time and investment as a client, and communication should be of utmost importance to any agency. Otherwise, you simply won’t feel valued.

Depending on your relationship, and the results you’ve experienced so far, you may want to give them one last chance. However, if I were you, I’d seriously be looking elsewhere.

5. They aren’t helping you grow your business

If you’re not seeing an improvement in your leads and sales, you have to ask why. This is because when it comes down to it, you aren’t paying someone to simply get more people to your website – or at least, you shouldn’t be. You should be paying for results that will help you grow your business in the long-term.

Don’t get me wrong, most holistic digital marketing strategies won’t provide instant results. However, if you’ve been with your agency for a number of months, or even years, and you’re still not seeing an improvement, it’s time to start asking yourself some tough questions.

Next steps

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, but if you’re experiencing the problems above, please don’t go away from this article without taking any action. You need to address these problems with your SEO agency, and you need to do it now. Indecision will continue to cost your business money, and that’s the last thing you need.

TIP: To help you out, here are 7 vital questions you should be asking any SEO agency. (This might also come in handy if you decide to go elsewhere!)

If you need any further advice, or want to let me know how you got on, I’d love to hear from you in the comments’ section!

Do You Really Need a Lead Generation Marketing Company?

Thinking of investing in a lead generation marketing company to get your business out of a tight spot?

In my many years as a digital marketer, I’ve seen the same story over and over again:

You’ve worked hard to build up your business over the years, but as times have changed, so have your customers. Gradually you’ve noticed it’s becoming harder and harder to reach them. Customer referrals can only get you so far, whilst your competitors always seem to be one step ahead.

You’ve even tried a bit of marketing, but it’s just not growing your business as you expected. You need more leads, so where do you turn for help? The internet is full of potential solutions, and you’re drawn to the places that sound like they have the answer to all of your problems.

You’re not alone. All too many businesses find themselves panicking when their leads start to dry up, which is why turning to a so-called lead generation marketing company may seem like the best way forward.

However, before you do anything, let me tell you why there could be a much better solution.

Is a lead generation marketing company the answer?

Well, it’s a little bit more complicated than you might think. The answer really depends on what you think a lead generation company should do for you.

For instance, many businesses calling themselves ‘lead generation’ companies simply offer up ready-made lists of contacts that you can then get in touch with in order to try and sell your products or services.

Unfortunately, when it’s time to get in touch with these so-called leads, you’ll find that a lot of them just aren’t ready to buy. In fact, most of them probably haven’t even heard of your company. The result? You end up wasting your time and money on poor quality leads that aren’t interested.

Here’s an example of how this works in practice, as demonstrated by Three Deep Marketing:

“Last year I was doing some research on home mortgage rates. I found a site that asked me to register to check rates in my area. Within the first 30 minutes of filling out that form I got calls from 3 mortgage companies; 3 more called me within the first hour. I couldn’t believe I fell for my own lead generation tactics!

My advice is this: think about what lead generation means to you. If it means just being given a list of ready-made contacts, I can guarantee you’re looking at it the wrong way.

Is there a better way to generate leads for your business?

If you don’t want to spend your time calling up people who aren’t interested in your products or services, there’s a much more effective way to get the leads you need to grow your business.

Most digital marketing agencies will be able to offer you a more sustainable and reliable way to increase your leads and sales. How? By incorporating a more holistic process to help you achieve your goals.

A typical digital marketing strategy consists of many elements.  These include: content marketing, SEO, landing pages, email nurturing, testing and analytics, and more. This not only ensures you’re getting a steady stream of quality leads, but it also doesn’t include tactics like the one mentioned above.

So, whether you’re hiring a digital marketing agency, or a lead generation company, ensure you’re getting leads the smart way, as part of a wider, more holistic process.

Any company you hire to generate you leads should be able to sit down with you and work out your goals, along with how they’re going to help you get there – not just hand you a list of email addresses. Their plan should include all of the methods mentioned in this blog.

Conclusion

By now you should have a better idea of the type of lead generation that can help your company grow. A digital marketing agency with a holistic process can help you generate a steady, sustainable stream of good quality leads who will be ready to buy when you call – unlike the leads you’re likely to get with a lead generation marketing company.

Have you ever bought leads from an online lead generation marketing company? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments section. Alternatively, if you have any questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer them.

7 Effective Steps To Help You Generate Leads Online for Free

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way you could generate leads online for free, without having to pay for tools to help you do it?

Well, it might not be as impossible as you think.

Of course, I’m not saying there’s a silver bullet than can generate you quick and easy leads overnight. However…

What if I told you that by utilising some of the best free online marketing tools out there, you could soon have a system up and running that would help get more leads coming in to grow your business? It’s all about attracting the right people to your website, and findings ways of turning them into leads that you can then convert into sales.

In this blog post, I’m going to use my 20+ years’ experience as an marketer to show you ways of doing this that won’t cost you ANY money at all.

The only real cost?

Your time – and don’t get me wrong, it WILL require a lot of effort and hard work.

DISCLAIMER: Before we get started, there is one caveat to this. By only using free tools, you’ll be limited as to the results you can achieve, as many good things that come for free also have paid versions that are even better. However, doing it this way WILL get leads trickling in, so you can eventually start investing in upgrades that will do the job even better.

So, are you ready to learn how to generate leads online for free? Let’s get this thing started.

1. Attract plenty of traffic to your website with a blog

If you want to generate leads, you have to start at the beginning; by attracting plenty of traffic to your website. One of the best free ways to do this is by creating helpful content that matches what your ideal customers are typing into Google search. And where’s the best place to share this content? Your blog.

A blog is a dedicated space for posting the best content that your customers will find helpful or interesting – and they should ideally be able to find it when they visit your website. Don’t have a blog yet? It’s fairly simple to get one.

One of the best free blog tools available is Wordpress – which currently powers 26% of the web. Your hosting site may even have a setting that allows you to add it to your website with one click. It’s also very easy to install!

2. Guide them into taking the next logical step

Once your blog is up and displaying lots of fresh content, you want your readers to keep interacting with your site – otherwise they’ll just click away and go elsewhere, without converting into leads. You can help guide your visitors into becoming leads with call-to-actions (or CTAs).

These are clickable buttons ideally placed at the bottom of your blog. They could say something like ‘subscribe to the blog’ or ‘download our free ebook’.

You can do this by using Inbound Now’s free CTA tool. Or, if you want to be a bit more creative with your own custom CTAs, you could also try Canva.  I use the latter all the time, as you can put together professional-looking images with hardly any effort!

3. Convert them into leads with persuasive landing pages

Once your visitors click on your CTAs, they’ll be taken to what’s known as landing pages. These pages tell them more about why they would want to take the action described in the CTA. For example, if it’s to sign up to your blog or newsletter, tell them the benefits they’d gain.

Or if you have an ebook or guide (more about that below) for them to download, tell them what they can learn by downloading it in return for filling out a form with their contact details. Landing pages shouldn’t be overly salesy, but they should tell your customers why they’d want to take the action on the page. This is how you get visitors to become leads.

You can create free quality landing pages using ONTRApages.

4. Give them what they want for free with downloadable content

You know how I was just talking about ebooks or guides? This is also known as premium content, and you can offer it for free to download on your website – in return for just a few contact details. This really gives your visitors a reason to become leads, as they’re getting something really useful back in return.

You can put together professional-looking images for your ebook on Canva. As for the writing part, all you need is around 1,000 – 1,500 words that provides more detailed guidance for your customers. If you can match them to your blog content in some way, all the better.

TIP: If you don’t have the time to create ebooks on top of your content, you can collate some of your best blogs on a particular topic and make that into a comprehensive ebook or guide – all it needs is just a little editing!

5. Nurture and engage your leads with email drip campaigns

Now that you have some quality leads, you need to keep them engaged with clever email messages and content. This helps you stay in the forefront of their minds. One of the tools you can achieve this with is MailChimp. It isn’t exactly email automation, but it’s very similar – and free. It essentially allows you to create drip campaigns containing carefully planned content to specific contacts every 3, 5, or 10 days.

Email marketing automation is a little more advanced – for instance, MailChimp has no way of determining when people become customers. You’ll also have to segment your lists manually – which is something I highly recommend you do for maximum effect.

6. Grow a regular audience for your blog with RSS-to-email

Now that you’re publishing regular content, you don’t want people to read one blog and just forget about it. So, how can you get regular visitors to read and engage with your blog? Well, MailChimp, as mentioned above, also have a handy RSS-to-email feature which allow people to easily subscribe.

It’s very simple to use, and all you need to do is publish your content as usual – it will land in your subscribers’ inboxes! You can control how many posts go out, and the frequency, too. You can even combine multiple RSS feeds into just one email newsletter – it’s up to you how you use it.

7. Share your content with the people that need to see it

If you want the right people to see and engage with your posts, you have to share it to the right places. It may only be one piece of the puzzle, but you probably don’t want to be going to all the effort above without including social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. That way you can start to build a following and connect with more of your ideal customers.

Buffer allows you to schedule, publish and analyse your social media posts all in one place – handy! So, if you want to increase engagement on your posts and see how people are reacting, I highly recommend it. It will also save you some time and even help your blogs get found quicker on Google!

More in-depth but still free…

Below are some other free tools you may find useful, although they might take a bit longer to get the hang of:

  • Google Analytics – Very valuable for understanding your audience, and what they’re doing on your site.
  • HotJar – Let’s you use heat maps, scroll maps, funnel analysis and more.
  • Google Optimise – A bit clunky, but great if you want to try A/B split testing for free.
  • Peek User Testing – This is basically someone filming their first impressions of your site. You can easily get some great insights and ‘a-ha!’ moments.

TIP: If you’re not necessarily only looking for free tools, check out my blog ’15 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools to Grow Your Business’.

One final thought

Well, that’s the basics to help you start generating those much-needed leads online for free! However, you might be reading this article and thinking there’s one clear disadvantage staring you in the face. If you don’t have the time, or the inclination to learn any of the above tools and systems for yourself, you may have to bite the bullet and pay someone to help you.

There’s also the issue of the above tools being very segmented, which means they won’t really talk to each other very well. This can lead to things getting overly complicated and messy. However, it IS a way to save money, and it IS entirely possible – as long as you’re happy to put in the time and effort.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, or get in touch. I’ll be happy to give you some more free advice that might be able to help.

5 Clever Things All Businesses Must do with Their Email Lists

Does your business have huge email lists just sitting around doing nothing?

Whether you’ve been collecting the email addresses of customers, potential customers, or both, you’ve probably gathered up quite a lot of potentially valuable contacts over the years. But now they’re just stagnating in a list somewhere.

Seems a bit of a waste, doesn’t it? Especially as the average email list degrades by about 22.5% every year – perhaps even more so if you don’t keep the recipients engaged.

But wait a minute… what if I told you that you could actually get something back from that email list – like more sales and engagement?

Now, this is something I get asked about a lot, so listen up.

You should be looking at your email as your most powerful marketing asset; when times are hard, and you’re not getting enough people to your website, this is where you should be turning; to the people who have already expressed their interest.

It doesn’t cost anything to market to your email list, and with the right tools to hold their attention, they’ll stay with you – however, send them rubbish they don’t want to hear, and they’ll unsubscribe faster than you can say ‘You’ve been spammed’.

In this blog post, I’m going to use my experience as a digital marketer give you five easy ways your company can get the most out of your email list.

But firstly…

email lists spammy emails

Why buying email lists is a bad idea

Often, companies buy email lists online thinking it’s a good investment, as these leads come pre-packaged with none of the effort. If you’re thinking of buying a list right now: stop.

The reason being, that the contacts you’ll find on paid-for lists likely don’t know who you are, and haven’t opted into receiving emails from you.

Not to mention, the first contact they’ll get from your company will come in the form of a spammy email – sending them something they never asked for in the first place is not the best start for a trusting relationship, is it?

In fact, if you’ve already bought a list, this is probably why your response rate is so low.

So, without further ado, let me give you some tips on building and making the most of your email list, the smart way!

1. Grow your email lists organically for better engagement

So, instead of buying lists, the best way to grow your email list is organically; in other words, collecting the email addresses of people who visit your website, or have somehow expressed an interest in your products or services.

And of course, they should opt-in to receiving updates from you by entering their email address themselves, and preferably ticking the necessary box.

The first thing you need to really think about is what you’re doing with these email addresses when someone contacts you; how are you collecting them, and where are these visitors going?

If you’re only collecting emails from people who are asking for quotes, this may not be the most ideal way to build your email list, as only a small percentage of your visitors will be at that ready-to-buy stage – what happens to the rest?

To be honest, they’re probably having a look around, and then leaving.

Unless you’re able to look at Google Analytics and find out what these other people are doing on your website, they’re just a number to you. So, how do you turn these numbers into real people you can actually engage with?

Well, one of the best ways is by offering premium downloadable content and information they can access for free – all they have to do is fill in their name and email address.

Some examples would be helpful ebooks, such as:

  • The Best Way to Manage Your Online Databases
  • Roof Replacement Dos and Don’ts
  • The Big Helpful Guide to Buying SaaS
  • Conservatories vs Orangeries: What’s the Difference?
  • An App Developer’s Guide to Distribution

The list goes on and on…

2. Segment your lists for improved effectiveness

Now that you’re collecting your email list from various sources, you need a tool to collect and segment your lists for you automatically, so you can effectively communicate with your contacts and send them information they’ll definitely be interested in.

For instance, someone who has already bought a boiler or a conservatory from you probably won’t be interested in an email talking about the same product. Keeping your lists as personalised as possible will allow you to send the right info to the right people – hopefully at the right time!

Of course, you could segment your lists manually, but this is a very time-consuming job, and if you don’t stay on top of it, things can get messy – not ideal if most of your time is spent running a business!

3. Keep them interested with regular emails

Once you’ve got a nice, healthy email list that consists of people who you know actually want to hear from you, the next step is to start sending out emails!

The trick here is to stay at the forefront of their minds, by sending them helpful, engaging emails that they’ll be interested in and want to read – without spamming them with things that make them want to unsubscribe.

One of the best ways to do this is by writing a regular blog, which you can then send out to the right people as you publish, or in a weekly or monthly digest.

Your blog should ideally be updated once or twice a week with quality content that that answers the questions you no doubt hear from your best customers all the time. Without great content like this, you’ll just be doing what you’ve always done – only trying to sell products, and getting limited results.

There are so many other reasons to have a blog – it also means that your website’s traffic will increase with more people being able to find you via Google search!

4. Give them a good incentive to subscribe to your newsletter

If you’re thinking of offering a newsletter – especially if you have a new website – think about why someone would want to sign up. How will they benefit?

I’ve found that usually, no-one will really want to enter their email address into the magic little box if you don’t give them any reason to do so. A little line of text underneath will do so much more – for example, you could have something like:

‘Subscribe to our newsletter to receive special discounts and offers!

You see? Especially if people are considering buying from you, they’ll definitely want to be informed if they can get your products or services for less!

5. Use offline opportunities to keep building your list

Finally, don’t simply think of building your email list as something that stays strictly online. Take a notebook or your tablet with you when you go out to jobs, trade shows and exhibitions, and ask people who show an interest if they’d like to sign up.

You might be surprised how many will say ‘yes’! Especially if you tell them the kind of things you’re offering, such as brochures, ebooks and helpful content that answers that question they’ve just asked. It’s such a simple thing to do, but many companies fail to pro-actively build their lists this way.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading, and I hope I’ve inspired you to do more with your business’s email lists – they’re such a useful marketing asset to have, and I’m truly saddened by how many companies simply neglect theirs, or use them to send out blanket spammy sales messages that appeal to hardly anyone.

If you have any questions about email lists and how to make the most out of yours, feel free to leave a comment below – I promise to reply with something helpful!

Everything you Need to Know About Prices for SEO Packages

Feeling confused about prices for SEO packages? I can assure you you’re not the only one.

After all, we all like to know we’re getting our money’s worth, don’t we?

That is especially true in business, as paying too much out and not getting much in return could leave you in a sticky situation. However, when it comes to finding SEO services in Edinburgh, things can get particularly confusing.

A quick 10-minute online search will provide you with a wealth of prices for SEO packages, with services being touted from as little as £20, to £10,000 a month.

So, what should you be paying?

How much SEO should really cost

It goes without saying, SEO services that come with a hefty price tag can be off-putting, making the cheaper deals seem more tempting than ever. However, it’s worthwhile to bear in mind that when it comes to SEO, you really get what you pay for.

In other words, be wary of really cheap SEO, as more often than not, it’s probably not going to do much at the end of the day.

According to Website Magazine, the average monthly cost of SEO services is $750 (that’s just under £500). At an hourly rate, you should expecting to be paying around £65.

However, as you’ll probably be aware, the actual cost of SEO can also vary depending on the different types of packages and services you use.

So, how do you work out which service is right for you, and which is ripping you off?

Work out the true value of SEO

My advice here is not to focus too much on cost; instead, try to think about the value an SEO service is going to bring to your business.

Take a close look at a few SEO company websites. What are they offering? If they say they can increase your sales by 500 per cent, it’s probably too good to be true. However, they should be able to demonstrate the value you’re going to get back from their services, and explain how they’re going to do it.

Remember, getting to the top of Google rankings isn’t necessarily the best SEO practice. Nor is simply directing a lot more traffic to your website. What you really want to know is how many more sales and leads the service is going to generate for you over the next 6 – 12 months.

You can’t expect solid promises, as nothing is ever guaranteed, but a company should at least be able to give you a good estimate of the return of your investment.

Do your homework on SEO agencies

If possible, really do your research before committing to an SEO company by looking at the company’s history, and any third party reviews online.

Don’t just check customer testimonials published on their website; actually speak to these previous customers directly and find out whether they’ve actually seen tangible results.

Next, interview the company. By asking the right kind of questions, you should be able to work out the true value of your investment, and whether the cost is justified.

The most affordable way to use SEO

It’s important to note here that SEO on its own won’t work – it needs to be part of a wider strategy – such as inbound marketing – to actually be successful.

If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on SEO for your business, my advice is to go it alone. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? It’s really not.

All you really have to do is spend time understanding the questions your customers are asking, and then write about them.

Why all this talk about inbound marketing?

Marketing is changing, and the behaviour of your customers has already changed. No longer can a TV ad, radio ad or any outbound marketing guarantee success.

The reason for this? Customers are smarter! They have so much choice available and they can easily tune out of your marketing message. Measuring success of outbound sales tactics has always been difficult and sometimes impossible.

People don’t want your business message pushed to them; they would rather figure it out on their own. Inbound marketing is about creating content that your target market would pay for, but you give it to them for free.

Take a look at your visitor data and you will see that a high percentage of your traffic leaves without performing any further action.

This can be for many reasons; perhaps they were in research mode and not ready to buy – they might even have been looking for specific answers to their questions.

Inbound marketing helps your website move your visitors through the marketing funnel and turns more of them into customers. See the sales funnel below.sales funnel

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this blog post helpful, and that you’ll be inspired to ask the right questions and award careful scrutiny when looking for prices for seo packages.

The good news is that most SEO companies are wising up to the fact that marketing nowadays means a lot more than keywords and traffic, however it doesn’t hurt to keep the above in mind when looking for an SEO vendor that is the right fit for your business.

Do you want to know more about prices for seo packages, or about digital marketing as a whole? Feel free to leave me a comment below, or don’t hesitate to get in touch directly if there’s anything else I can help you with.

7 Vital Questions to Ask When Choosing an SEO Company in Edinburgh

Are you looking to hire an SEO company in Edinburgh, but aren’t sure how you qualify one for the job?

With so many different SEO companies and services on offer nowadays, it can be daunting finding the right one for your business – especially if you don’t know exactly what you need.

Over the years, many people have come to me facing this exact same struggle, and I’ve been able to help them determine the questions they need to be asking in order to qualify an SEO vendor.

Below, I’ve highlighted the most important questions you need to be asking, as well as some of the questions you should ask yourself.

Question 1: Which services do you offer?

The type of services SEO companies in Edinburgh offer can differ greatly from business to business. Ideally, you should be looking for an SEO vendor that will not only provide services to generate more traffic to your website, but also services that help you generate leads from that traffic.

So, before going any further, find out more about the exact services a company is offering, and whether they can truly provide what your company needs. This could involve a more in-depth discussion to address your current challenges and concerns.

Some of the services you’d typically expect from an SEO company include:

  • A technical analysis of your website’s SEO
  • On-page optimisation
  • Content creation
  • Link analysis
  • Competitor analysis
  • Social media SEO

It could be that you already have an idea of some of the services you require, or perhaps you just have a clear set of company goals that you need to achieve.

In which case, my second question is equally important…

Question 2: What results can I expect?

If an SEO company can answer this question right off the bat, it should set alarm bells ringing. They should first take the time to understand more about your business and how it works, before being able to predict the results you can expect to achieve with them.

Watch out for guarantees about getting you to the top in search rankings – if an SEO company mentions this, look elsewhere. It could be they’ll resort to tactics such as building poor quality links to your site, that will eventually result in your website ranking even lower than before.

They should at least be telling you how much more leads and sales you can expect, as well as how much more traffic they will generate (although this should NOT be your main concern).

TIP: A company should also be able to tell you openly how they will achieve these results, and the methods they plan to put in place. If they won’t divulge this with you, you should look elsewhere.

Question 3: What value will you provide in relation to cost?

If you’re like most businesses, you probably have a set budget you want to stick to. Most SEO companies will at least be able to give you a relevant price range upfront, before sitting down to discuss the finer details and the total cost of the services you require.

However, more importantly than the actual cost, you need to ask about the value you will receive for that outgoing cost. After all, if you’re going to be spending, say, £3000 a month on SEO services, you’re going to need to know that it’ll be worth it.

Typically, if a company can’t give you a predicted ROI for the services you’re purchasing (say, an extra £500,000 a year in revenue), then it’s not worth the risk.

Question 4: Can I see some case studies?

If you are to put your trust in an SEO company, it only makes sense that you’re going to want to see some proof that their services get results. One of the best ways of ensuring this, is to ask to see some cases studies.

Preferably, these case studies should be as closely matched to your business model as possible, with examples of wins clearly demonstrated.

Some SEO vendors may even agree to let you speak to their previous customers, but usually this only happens later down the line, when they are sure your company is a good fit and you’re almost ready to come on-board as a fully-fledged customer.

Question 5: Do you practice what you preach?

By this question, I mean, are they following their own SEO best practices? For example, their website should be easy to navigate, lead you down a path, and speak to you as a customer with well-designed landing pages and clever call-to-actions.

Are they using the same techniques on their own website as they are promising to do for you? If possible, ask them to demonstrate examples of how they are using these techniques for their own benefit. They should be able to show you.

Question 6: How will you measure success?

I cannot stress enough how important this is. You need to specifically ask them what metrics they will be tracking in order to measure the success of your campaign, and how often you will be updated on these metrics.

You should expect a monthly report detailing key performance indicators, so you can see the results for yourself. Remember, leads and sales are always more important than traffic and keywords, which should come lower down the scale.

If ALL a company offers you is a monthly keyword report: run.

Question 7: Will I have complete transparency?

A good SEO vendor will have nothing to hide. If they are using software such as HubSpot for their SEO efforts (and you’re paying for it), you should be able to log in and see exactly what they have been doing.

If a company is simply using analytics software, you may not get this access, in which case it will be even more important for them to be able to demonstrate transparency to you.

The very least you can expect is a monthly report that includes the tasks they have recently carried out for you, as well as being able to answer any questions you might have.

The questions you should ask yourself

If an SEO vendor has successfully answered all of the above questions, and you’re still feeling uncertain, there are some questions you should ask yourself before proceeding.

These include:

  • Do I trust them?
  • Do I like them?
  • Did they demonstrate value?
  • Will I be able to work with them?
  • Do they share my company values?
  • Did they listen to me?
  • Do they have a good understanding of my challenges?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to all of the questions above, there’s a good chance they might be a good fit for your business.

Managing your expectations of SEO

The practice of SEO encompasses a lot nowadays, or at least, it should. This is because SEO is traditionally very manipulative and mainly focused on tactics designed to bring more traffic to your website; not actually convert it.

The truth is that if your website isn’t converting well, adding more traffic to the mix won’t fix the problem, which is why you ideally need a more holistic approach, such as inbound marketing.

Some SEO vendors are starting to introduce other elements such as content creation (as mentioned above) and website flow into their packages, and this is what you should be looking for.

Remember, if ALL an SEO company talks about is keywords and search rankings, without being able to predict a solid increase in leads and sales, they might not be worth your time.

For more on this subject, read my blog entitled: ‘Why SEO is’nt the Solution to Your Business Problem’

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful when choosing an SEO company in Edinburgh. Remember, SEO should be part of a more holistic approach, so asking the above questions can help ensure you’re making the best choice for your business.

Do you have any questions about finding the right Edinburgh SEO company? Pop them in a comment below, and I’ll answer as soon as I can – I’d love to hear from you!

How to Choose a Good SEO Company in 2017

Are you not sure how to choose a good SEO company?

SEO has changed significantly over the past 10 years, and the SEO companies who are not adapting to these changes are the ones that will soon be out of business. You must demand more from them!

You may have heard the term ‘Inbound Marketing’. This relatively new marketing methodology is an evolution of SEO, PPC, PR, social, conversion optimisation and content marketing.

If you are thinking of hiring an Edinburgh SEO company, or your existing company is not embracing new marketing ideas, then maybe it’s time you moved on. A good way to identify if your current SEO company is stuck in the Ice Age is to listen to their language.

For instance, if they talk about:

  • Getting to the top of Google
  • Selecting a set number of keywords and keyphrases
  • Ethical link building

AND if your weekly/monthly reports focus on keyphrase positioning and monthly traffic – then your SEO Company is doing your business a disservice.

Let me explain.

The success of your business online is not about keyphrase rankings. Rankings are dead, and they tell you very little of how successful your campaign is, anyway.

A great indication of success is how many sales you received this month, or how many leads your SEO company generated for you in your last report. Perhaps even how many times your phone rang.

These are all important measurements or KPIs to illustrate how well you are doing. If your SEO Company is not focusing on these important factors then it is time for a change.

Building the right kind of relationships

As we are all in business, we know the importance of building relationships. We buy from people, not companies, and that should be true also of your Edinburgh SEO company.

We all need to build trust with our clients and always go that extra mile to make sure they are happy. They need to ask you the right questions, and listen to what you want to achieve online and for your business.

Asking you for a list of keyphrases will not help them ascertain what success means to you. They need to build relationships and form friendships with you and your business. For example, can you name three people who work on your campaign?

You’ve got to remember that not every company will be the right match for you, and the best relationships are forged when you hire a company that shares the same values.

Each SEO company has their own methodologies, you need to be bought into what they are trying to achieve or your relationship will soon deteriorate.

What kind of relationship do YOU have?

How is your relationship with your SEO company – how often do you have contact with them? You should be in frequent contact with your chosen SEO vendor, and you should feel that you can pick up the phone or respond to an email at all times.

Do you know exactly what the company does for you? Your SEO company should have identified a clear road map of success and provide you with access to a client portal where you can see exactly what goes on and when.

This portal should also give you the opportunity to get involved in the conversation with team members that are working on your campaign. At Stargazer we use Basecamp, which is a platform where the client can log in and see total transparency of what’s going on in their Inbound marketing campaign.

This platform allows you to see to do lists, project deadlines, content calendars and other tasks that may be assigned to different members of the team and the client. It also gives our clients the opportunity to communicate directly with the people who are actively working on their campaigns.

Your SEO company should have a similar process in place.

Does your SEO report look like this?

screen_shot_2016-04-04_at_11-16-51Or does it look more like this?

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Which one tells you more about how your business is doing? Talking with your SEO company and identify which metrics are important to you – and which drive success – is an important conversation you need to be having.

Conducting a marketing assessment

As I mentioned in the introduction, SEO has changed, and is now a much smaller part of a bigger marketing solution. We have seen the emergence of inbound marketing to be more effective in marketing your business.

One of the first things your SEO company should do is conduct a marketing assessment to see where your strengths and weakness lie. Below you can see a sample marketing assessment:

marketing score-seo in edinburgh

By conducting a marketing assessment, your SEO company will have a clear idea of what needs to be done to obtain success. It will show where quick gains can be made and help create a roadmap for achieving your goals.

Marketing services are split into two categories; builders and drivers.

Drivers are what we can put into place for you to see an immediate, positive effect. For example, if you have a large database of customers, creating an email marketing campaign can see relatively quick results – or we could create a referral programme.

Builders are more long-term strategies. The kinds of examples that fall into this area include:

  • Increasing your social networking strategy
  • Building your customer database
  • Implementing processes to track leads better

There is zero point in constantly link building to raise your rankings, as this may not be the solution and you could even be penalised by Google!

More traffic does not equal more sales. If your website has roadblocks that inhibit people from converting on your website, then no amount of traffic will solve this issue -which is why you need to demand more from your SEO company in 2017.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoying reading, and by how you should have a better idea of how to choose a SEO company. Don’t settle for anything less!

Got any questions about hiring an SEO company? Feel free to leave them in the comments’, and I promise to answer!

8

5 Essential Email Marketing Tools for Your Business

Are you looking for email marketing tools to help manage your business email list?

Email marketing tools make maintaining and building your email lists so easy, allowing you to separate them into different categories, and send relevant content, updates and offers to the people who will actually want to read them!

The good news is, there are so many affordable (and even free!) tools out there, however, the bad news is that you can spend all day looking at various email clients and still be none the wiser.

If you’re feeling a bit puzzled by all the different email marketing tools out there – and you don’t have time to look through them all whilst trying to run your business – don’t worry.

As a digital marketer, I’ve tested hundreds and hundreds of different email marketing tools, and so I thought I’d give you the benefit of my experience and list the best five here.

After all, it could end up saving you time and quite a few pennies!

1. WordPress

wordpress- email marketing tools

First thing’s first; there’s no point in getting software to help you manage and engage with your email lists when you have no great content to send them!

Did you know that WordPress now powers 26% of the web? So many users depend on it to put out their blogs and articles, and integrating a WordPress blog on your website is actually surprisingly easy!

Once you have your blog ready to go, you should be using it to answer your best customers’ questions, challenges and concerns. A good place to start is to think about some of the questions you hear from customers every day, and then answer each in a detailed blog post!

And there you have it; you’ll already have some helpful content to send to some of the people on your list!

2. MailChimp

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With lots of great, easy-to-use features and integration with various apps such as WordPress, Twitter, Facebook and Google, MailChimp is a popular tool used by small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike.

It’s perfect for automating email messages based on what your visitors are doing on your website, and even better, you can sign up for a free plan which allows you to send up to 12,000 emails for as many as 2,000 subscribers each month. This is great if you’re a small business and just want to try things out.

However, if you have more subscribers, or want to take advantage of all of the features this tool has to offer (such as autoresponders) then you’ll have to sign up for one of the paid plans, which start at around $10 per month.

3. Autopilot HQ

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I personally really like Autopilot HQ, as it allows you to send very personalised messages, and add people to various different lists in such an easy-to-use platform. You can also connect various apps to automate tasks and monitor your data.

Autopilot HQ allows you to track your open rate, clicks and conversions in one visually pleasing dashboard, and it takes very minimal effort to make adjustments and watch your revenue go up. Even better, there’s a free trial, so you can try it out without any risk!

Another advantage of this tool is that you won’t necessarily need landing pages, because it will collect all the data you need from your contact form – however, I’d highly recommend using dedicated landing pages to increase your conversions.

However, the one problem with Autopilot HQ is that it doesn’t allow you to send a block of emails out as soon as one of your blogs is published, whereas MailChimp does, so unfortunately you need both. It also doesn’t allow for RSS-to-email, which is a bit of a problem.

4. GetResponse

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Next on our list is GetResponse, which in my opinion is the best all-rounder when it comes to email automation and just doing everything you need in one package – you can even create landing pages!

It’s also worth mentioning that they are the first email marketing service to actually help you create your own webinars, for even more engagement with your email lists – I just love the idea of this, and it looks really easy to use!

You also have slightly more to choose from in terms of pricing options compared to the likes of MailChimp, and GetResponse also comes out slightly more cost-effective.

5. HubSpot

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Finally, if you want a good end-to-end enterprise solution, and can afford to spend a minimum of £6,000 per year on a marketing platform that can give you email automation, detailed reports and analytics, landing pages and various other tools, HubSpot is the solution for you.

I’ve personally been a HubSpot partner in the past, and not only is it a great platform to use, but the team are really helpful and will be on-hand to give you lots of help and advice with your marketing efforts.

TIP: If HubSpot seems a bit on the pricey side, another option is LeadSquared, which does a lot of the same things at just a fraction of the cost.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found my insights useful when it comes to choosing good email marketing tools for your home services business – it’s really so important to keep your email lists engaged with great content, and these tools just make life so much easier!

If you have a question about any of the tools above, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I promise to do my best to help you out!

Before You Get a Marketing Audit for your Home Services Business, Do This

Are you looking for a marketing Audit?

It’s true that any marketing audits or campaigns involves some degree of risk; after all, not even the biggest agencies can guarantee you results (and if they do, you should avoid them!).

However, if you’re feeling anxious about what you can do to help ensure the best chance of success with your content or digital marketing strategy, I have a few key insights I can share.

From running an inbound marketing agency myself, I’ve seen some clients’ traffic, leads and sales skyrocket over just a few months; whereas I also get the odd client who seems to stumble in the early stages.

The reason for this? Well, it all seemed to depend on exactly how well they knew their ideal customers – in other words, their buyer personas.

Let me explain…

Why are buyer personas important?

Superwarm, one of our most successful clients, have simply gone from strength to strength, and after two years of inbound, their numbers are still reaching impressive new highs.

This is fantastic news, and I can say without a doubt that their success is due to the fact that the owner, John Carmichael, knows his customer base inside-and-out, having spent 20+ years visiting their homes and talking to them directly about their challenges and concerns.

From all his time spent with his customers, he knows the type of questions they are typing into Google, the type of boilers they are looking to buy, and what’s important to them when they make a purchase.

All of this information – and more – is the key that has helped him create some truly engaging, quality content that his buyer personas really appreciate; and if I’m honest, it’s put him miles ahead of his competitors.

If you’re thinking about hiring a digital marketing agency, one of the first things they should establish is how well you know your buyer personas.

TIP: For more information, take a look at my blog post ‘Stop Wasting Time on Poor Leads: The Importance of Buyer Personas’.

How to clearly define your buyer persona

So, by now you probably have an idea of what a buyer persona is; a semi-fictional representation of your best customer (or customers) that is based on as much information as you can possibly get your hands on.

But where’s the best place to start honing in on your buyer personas? Your customers, of course! (If you don’t currently have any, simply skip this section and move onto the next)

However, you can also get some very valuable information (such as the types of questions they ask, their challenges and concerns) from:

  • Your sales team
  • Your customer services team
  • Your prospects
  • The customers you didn’t convert

Let’s start with the obvious one, though – your customers!

I highly recommend thinking up some key questions you can ask your customers, before preferably calling them and setting up a time to talk. I usually find that if they were happy with your services, most will not object to a quick 5 – 10 minute phone call.

TIP: If you really can’t afford to spare the time, or your customers tend to be more responsive to email, sending out email surveys could be another option – just be aware some of them will go ignored.

Some of the questions you could ask your customers include:

  • Their age
  • Their job title and role
  • What their typical day looks like
  • Their hobbies/what they do in their free time
  • Which websites they spend the most time on
  • What their main challenges were before they made their purchase
  • How much research they did before they made their purchase
  • What their buying process looked like (where did they start, who did they consult)
  • What made them choose you over your competitors
  • Whether they are likely to purchase from you again
  • How they prefer to interact with companies/vendors
  • What they liked/didn’t like about your website

These are just a few questions that you’ll need to know from your customers when developing a detailed buyer personas to use in your content. Don’t stop there, though!

You should always be building on your buyer personas and adding to this valuable information every chance you get. You never know when will be the perfect time to put them to good use!

What if you’re a new business or startup?

Okay, if you’re just getting starting with your business or startup, it’s safe to say that you don’t have much of an established client base, so you can’t do any of the above.

So, what can you do?

Well, firstly, I’d advise you to try and build up some data before spending thousands on a new marketing campaign – and there are a few ways you can do that.

These include:

1. Interviewing potential buyers

Even if you don’t have a customer base, you probably have a good idea of at least the kind of customer you want to attract, and that’s your starting point.

By interviewing potential customers, you can ask them some questions to help better understand them – use some of the questions I outlined above to get you started, such as their challenges or problems, what would make them choose you, what might put them off etc.

2. Look at online reviews

Next up, online reviews are a potential goldmine for finding out all sorts of information about your buyer personas. For instance, if you’re selling a particular product, taking to sites such as Amazon to look at product reviews can help you learn a tonne of valuable insights.

Of course, this will really depend on what you’re selling; for example, if you’re selling services (perhaps you sell and install products, like hot-tubs or roofing), another good idea is to look at review sites such as TrustPilot and find out what people are saying about your competitors.

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Looking at what real-life people are saying about companies and services very similar to what you’re offering will really help you understand what makes your potential customers happy, and what mistakes you really need to avoid.

3. Pay attention to analytics tools

If you’re planning on doing PPC, you can often get some great data off the back of that, which will tell you more about your demographics and the people who are clicking on your ads.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-15-43-33

I’d also highly recommend setting up Google Analytics on your website to find out even more about your demographics – and doing the same on your Facebook page means you’ll soon be able to build up a much better picture of who is interested in your products/services.

4. Setup retargeting

Setting up retargeting on Google and Facebook means you can target specific ads that are only seen by people who have previously visited your website. Google will be able to tell you their likes, interests, websites they’ve visited, age etc. and you’ll get some very similar results from Facebook.

Doing this can help you gain an even better insight into the lives of your buyer personas, plus it’s only a fraction of the cost you’d pay for Adwords.

Of course, nothing actually compensates for actually speaking to these people in real life, and hearing this information straight from the horse’s mouth, as they say.

Just speaking to even one customer will tell you more than 10,000 visitors ever could; real people can accelerate your results by telling you exactly what they want, and what they’re thinking.

5. Try online testing websites

No customers to give you feedback on your shiny new website?

Some smart websites (such as UserTesting.com) have come up with an effective way around that, which can at least give you a better idea of what your potential customers will be thinking when they arrive on your website.

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-15-44-32

All you have to do is stick in your URL, and someone will record themselves looking at your website and giving you their first impressions, so you can instantly see what visitors may like, and what aspects they may be struggling with.

You can even ask them to perform specific tasks, such as booking an appointment, ordering a specific product or even finding a page – just to see how easy it actually is.

Lots of services offer this, and I find these sites oh so valuable, as what may seem obvious to you, isn’t necessarily going to be obvious to someone visiting your website for the first time.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, and that you’ve found some of the tips in this blog valuable when developing buyer personas for your content or digital marketing strategy.

I’ve written about buyer personas in the past, but this blog was all about providing more actionable information you can really use to get the best results out of your marketing efforts.

Do you have any specific questions about developing your own buyer personas? Let me know in the comments, and I promise to reply!

7

7 SEO Companies in Edinburgh That Deserve Your Attention

Having previously worked in Edinburgh for 10 years, and for two separate companies as head of SEO and digital marketing, I thought I would share of the most popular SEO agencies in Edinburgh.

I’ve included a brief overview of each below, along with the services they specialise in (if any).

My criteria for a good SEO company wasn’t too strict, I tried to be as fair as I possibly could. I looked for companies that:

  • Had clear pricing
  • Demonstrated success metrics (including sales, conversions, decrease in cost per leads) and focused less on rankings
  • Really had a grasp on what SEO is and how to do it successfully
  • Didn’t talk about out-of-date tactics that don’t work
  • Seemed to care about their clients

TIP: If you want to learn SEO from the experts we have a great free guide on Learning SEO from the experts that I think you would enjoy.

1. Attacat

seo in edinburgh attaract

Attacat’s website was good as they talk about client success stories including their increase in conversions, and decrease in cost per leads. They also have clear pricing which is great.

They do not have a minimum contract which I’m sure you’ll find attractive, and they also have a 95% year-on-year client retention rate which is very impressive. After reading their ‘about us’ page I got a sense that they really cared about their clients which again is great.

They also have a good presence in search as they appeared several times when I was researching this article. A good sign they know what they are doing.

Website: http://www.attacat.co.uk/

Telephone: 0131 220 1441

Contact: contact us page

2. DigitasLBi

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DigitasLBI – as it is now called – is a really well-known SEO company, not just in Edinburgh but all over the world, and they really have some impressive clients. As I have worked in Edinburgh for so long I could not escape knowing about these guys, and I’m pleased to say they come highly recommended.

They have won many awards and really cover a wide range of services that I’m sure your business will benefit from. They have also been voted the best place to work on many occasions. I personally know one person who works there and I can say he really knows his stuff.

Website: http://www.bigmouthmedia.com/

Telephone: 0845 130 0022

Contact: contact us page

3. Teckle Digital

teckle edinburgh

With a professional, clearly laid-out website and an affordable approach to SEO for companies of all sizes, Teckle Digital is definitely one to watch – especially if you’re looking for more than just SEO!

Teckle also offers neatly designed websites, social media services and ad retargeting – all services tailored and designed to fit around your own company’s goals. Although, you should remember that getting to Page One isn’t all there is to SEO – your website also needs to convert visitors into leads.

You can also take a look at the client testimonials on their home page.

Website: http://www.teckledigital.com/

Telephone: 0131 669 9488

Contact: Contact page

4. Alba SEO Services

alba seo

Offering a variety of digital marketing services, Alba SEO Services are marketing and SEO specialists based in Edinburgh. They feature high in Google search – so they must know what they’re talking about – although as with any company, you’ll want to know that high rankings aren’t all Alba cares about.

Website: http://www.albaseoservices.co.uk/

Telephone: 07867951266

Contact: There a handy form on the ‘contact us’ page

5. Cozy Digital

cozy digital edinburgh

What can I say about these guys, well, I was their head of SEO for 5 years but please don’t think I’m being bias. The reason this company is in the list is because they did show up for “seo companies in Edinburgh”.

Another big reason they made the list is that I can personally vouch for this company. I know these guys care about their customers and always give them the best possible service. They have a great way to compare their SEO packages on their website.

Cozy Digital are really good at helping small businesses grow online. This is not an easy thing to do in SEO and is a great skill to have.

website: http://www.cozy-digital.co.uk/

telephone: 0131 560 1790

contact: contact us page

6. Pretty Klicks

pretty clicks

“Not the biggest agency, but smarter and leaner.” — It’s quite a good tag line for a company to have, which is why Pretty Klicks features at no. 6 on my list. Aiming to offer quality, honest and reliable SEO, they also ensure their services are results driven, which is exactly what you want to hear.

Website: http://www.prettyklicks.com/seo-edinburgh/

Contact: Contact us page

7. SEO Service Edinburgh

seo services edinburgh

With years of experience behind their belts, SEO Service Edinburgh offers proven, affordable SEO strategies, complete SEO in the UK, and even Google penalty recovery – if you’ve previously been penalised by Google for tactics such as link building in the past.

So, if you’re looking to build on your company’s SEO, this could be a budget-friendly option – but there’s only one way to find out (give them a call)!

Website: http://www.seoserviceedinburgh.co.uk/

Telephone: 0141 250 7139

Contact: Contact us page

Disclaimer

Stargazer Digital are in no way affiliated with any of the above companies and we cannot vouch for the kind of service you will receive, but we really hope if you are looking for an SEO company in Edinburgh that you find this information helpful.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found this blog helpful, and I do recommend you contact these Edinburgh SEO companies to see which ones are the best fit for your needs. When you do, remember to ask them questions like these ones.

And if you have any questions you’d like to ask ME, feel free to leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you.